Monday, September 08, 2008

Erie Today, Chautauqua Tomorrow




That I didn’t finish dinner and get back to the Super 8 till 9:30 p.m. helped me decide to break today’s 130 miles (and that would be if there were no re-routes), into a more relaxed two day ride—90 miles to Erie, and 50 from Erie to Chautauqua. T’was a good plan.

Hooked up with Walt and his 90 year old Dad for dinner at their house in Erie swapping stories of transcontinental rides completed and rides yet to be ridden. There's something twisted about a municipality (Erie) that "solves" its issue of road rage by simply posting a sign to warn potential victims. Hmmm

The next day, the on-to-Chautauqua day, the 50 mile day, woke with a fierce steady 30 mph steady head wind that would need to be fought against up and over the continental divide between Westfield, NY and Chautauqua.

The view of Lake Chautauqua descending around the curve of Rt 394 is not impressive to the uninitiated Chautauquan. But everyone who made their annual pilgrimage to Chautauqua approaching from the west, prior to the construction of I-86, lived for their first view of the Lake. That first glimpse gave rest to their souls that they had lived another year and had come home again.

I pulled into Fred and Becky’s at Chautauqua about 12:30 p.m. Barb would be meeting me at Chautauqua, but I had about 4 hours to get cleaned up and walk the Grounds before she arrived. It had been about 50 years since I’d been at Chautauqua “off-season” meaning the summer, daily population of 10,000 had gone home till next year. There were probably 1,000 folks there, still, but by the end of October the numbers would be down to its winter count of 200 of hearty souls.

It was fun to share Chautauqua with Barb, after all it had been summer home for my growing up family since 1954; Kirk and I were married there in 1969; and Dwain and Emily were buried there in 2000 and 2006 respectively.

After Fred and Becky’s gift of dinner at Webb’s in Mayville (also where Kirk and I had our wedding rehearsal dinner and where we had the post-burial lunch for both Dwain and Emily) Barb and I settled into figuring out our car packing system. After all I would be riding the last 550 +/- miles (Chautauqua to Stoddard, NH) in luxury—the luxury of having my gear sagged in Barb’s car.

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